The 2023 Formula 1 calendar is poised to bring a few exciting changes. It was going to be the first one ever with 24 races, although at the moment the cancellation of the Chinese Grand Prix in April has shortened the list to 23.
The most high-profile addition to the calendar in 2023 is no doubt the Las Vegas Grand Prix, scheduled on November 16-18. It’s only the second time in history that three F1 Grand Prix will take place in the United States after the 1982 season that saw races in Long Beach and Detroit as well as the last Grand Prix in Las Vegas.
The sudden growth in interest for Formula 1 in the United States fueled by the hugely popular Netflix series Drive to Survive has led to the creation of two new events in the U.S. (Miami and Las Vegas) and fans stateside have started getting involved in related activities.
Formula 1-themed videogames have seen a sudden increase in sales and interest has grown in F1 betting, as this industry is developing in various states in accordance with the local environment and tastes.
For the first time during a Las Vegas Grand Prix, not only will local fans will be able to bet on the event, but also from more than half of the other states from California to New York passing through the Mid-West states of Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, where there are numerous sportsbooks with generous bonuses, more info can be found out about these here. As the industry grows this area is only likely to become more competitive, with F1 betting and other sports customers benefitting from this.
However, the core of the fanbase of this sport still remains in Europe, and organizers need to take this into account when scheduling the races.
A Late Night Start
The Las Vegas Grand Prix will see the green light at 10pm on a Saturday evening instead of the usual Sunday slot at the end of the weekend. Night races are not uncommon, in 2022 they were held in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi, but not that late at night and always on a Sunday.
The reason has partly to do with the fact that most top-shelf events in Las Vegas happen on Saturdays, to maximize weekend occupancy for the almost 150,000 hotel rooms in the city, but most likely it is to air the race at a convenient time for European fans. A 10pm start on a Saturday night in Las Vegas means that lights out will be at 6am in London and 7am in Rome, Paris, and Berlin on a Sunday morning. That would put the Las Vegas race in the same time band as other Grand Prix taking place in the Far East like Japan, China, or even Australia, where departures are sometimes delayed until 5pm for the same reason.
This means it will be a tough airing slot for ESPN and all the east coast fans that would like to watch the race live. Approximately three-quarters of TV spectators in the US are located in the Eastern or Central time zone, and while west coast events are normally scheduled to accommodate this, Formula 1 has decided to cater to their biggest source of revenue across the Atlantic.
TV Contracts Drive Sports Schedules
After all, sports scheduling follows the money, especially when TV dollars are a fundamental part of the league’s revenue. Formula 1’s contracts with European broadcasters bring in close to $400 million a year, while ESPN has reportedly paid a meager $5 million a year for their contract expiring at the end of 2022, and even their renewal offer for $70 million a year is still dwarfed by the revenues coming from Europe.
F1 fans will still have to watch their favorite sport during the night or in the morning as the sport pays its dues to the European broadcasters’ money.